Benjamin Dean is the writer of Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow. This is a wonderful story for 8-11 year olds that explores family life and relationships, with Pride as a backdrop. As we enter Pride month it seemed fitting to ask Ben our ten questions. Here we find out about the inspiration for his brilliant book and learn a little bit more about him. He is a huge advocate for inclusive and representative books and the telling of all stories. In an author letter he writes;
“Our stories, meaning black stories, LGBTQ+ stories, need to be heard and celebrated. I’m all too aware that a lot of times those doors remain closed to us.”
At Little Box of Books, we champion stories that reflect the full diversity of our population. Without further ado, here are Benjamin Dean’s ten answers!
- Why did you start writing/illustrating books for children?
I started writing books when I was a kid because it was my way of being able to escape into new worlds. I always loved losing myself in a world that I could build from scratch, which is probably why I was obsessed with The Sims growing up. When it came to writing for children as an adult though, I just enjoyed the chatty and more informal style of storytelling. Creating Archie and his voice as a vessel to tell the story was so much fun! But I definitely don’t do any illustrating – I’d be lucky if I could scrawl together an average stickman – which is why I leave it up to my wonderful illustrator Sandhya Prabhat.
How did you get your book out into the world?
I originally entered a short story competition with a concept that ended up being the skeleton for End of the Rainbow, but it was aimed at an older, YA audience. I didn’t win the competition, but it put me in touch with my first agent, who suggested I turn it into a full novel for a younger audience instead. Once I started, I realised the story couldn’t possibly be anything else. And then, with the help of my fantastic publisher, Simon & Schuster Kids UK, we got the book out into the world.
Why did you write this book?
I wanted children to be able to see themselves reflected in the pages of books in the way that I didn’t see myself growing up. Representation is so important to me, especially in children’s books. So, when it came to writing Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow, I knew I wanted the story to reflect that.
Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way?
I definitely relate to both Archie and Seb in some ways. Seb is such a worrier and I think I was more like him than any of my other characters when I was growing up. As for Archie, I think my voice naturally creeps into his throughout the story since he’s the main character and narrator. I feel really protective over him too, and maybe that’s because I relate to him in some ways.
What’s your favourite book and why?
I have a soft spot for Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Reading that when I was younger made me believe I could be an author too, so it really had a monumental impact on me.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an author from the time I realised that books didn’t just magically fall out of the sky and people actually wrote them. I’ve always loved books and I feel very fortunate to have been able to write stories of my own.
What do you want children to get from your books?
A sense of joy and happiness, but also the message of acceptance and love. Nothing makes me feel happier than hearing how people have reacted to Rainbow, whether it’s made them laugh, cry, or both.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Just write the damn thing!” Said to me by a friend who was probably tired of hearing about my first draft woes! But it’s true – you can’t move forward if you’re just sitting still.
Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves….
…helps children to understand acceptance, kindness, and most importantly, empathy.
A message to readers of your book?
Thank you for joining the story! There are hopefully many more to come.